- Obama's Mid-East Policy Boils Down To 3 Assumptions--All Of Them Wrong
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Posted: 02 Jul 2010 09:08 AM PDT
Tablet Magazine has a symposium of foreign policy experts on Obama's Middle East policy. One of them, Elliott Abrams, writes in part:
I think we can agree that there is nothing in Obama's conduct of his Mideast policy that would contradict any of the 3 premises that Abrams ascribes to him.
Now of course, there is nothing novel in assuming that the conflict is at the center of everything that goes on in the Middle East. The problem is that considering the Israel-Palestinian conflict in particular to be the key to peace in the Middle East means conveniently forgetting that the long history of Arabs killing Arabs predates the reestablishment of the State of Israel.
The fact is that historically, Arabs have not needed Israel as a pretext for killing each other--and that fact has not changed over the centuries. Raphael Patai, in an updated chapter in his book The Arab Mind has a list of Arab conflicts--none of which involve Israel--just during the 13 years from 1970 to 1983:
For an even more up-to-date list of Islamist violence, there is TheReligionOfPeace.com, which has a list (as of the writing of this post) of 15,569 Islamist attacks around the world since 9/11. Among the places where these terrorist attacks have taken place include:
Would all this really come to an end by creating a second Palestinian state?
And is that all that it will take--creating a state? On the one side is the goal of Hamas, as described in Article 7 of their Charter:
That is more than just a matter of territorial ambition--and the fact is that the Fatah Constitution is no different. In fact, in October 2007 Representative Roy Blount introduced Resolution 758:
Resolution 758 went nowhere, and the Fatah has not been revised. The Fatah claim that Zionism is an international phenomenon and that it must be eradicated culturally go beyond a mere territorial conflict involving the creation of a Palestinian state. It explains the persistent persecutions of Jews by Muslims when that very same area was under Islamic rule. For that matter, you can skim through Andrew Bostom's The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism and get an idea of the pervasive anti-Semitism and persecution of Jews--and all non-Muslims--throughout the history of Islam. To claim that the conflict is merely a dispute over land requires ignoring a lot of history that directly contradicts that view.
Now of course, no one is going to stop Obama from setting up the US as Abbas's personal representative to force unilateral Israeli concessions and manufacture a Palestinian state--something that has never existed in the history of the region. But considering how wrong Obama is on his first 2 premises, the result of pursuing the 3rd premise can only end in disastrous consequences for the region.
Ironically, it is Obama's single-minded attempt to force the creation of a second Palestinian state--to the exclusion of dealing with other threats in the region--that has been responsible for destabilizing the region. The Arab world has seen Obama's failure to deal with Iran and Syria and has begun to take steps to deal with the threat of Iran--steps that do not include the US or its interests.
by Daled Amos
Posted: 02 Jul 2010 03:54 AM PDT
His gimmick this week is, "The Real Palestinian Revolution." Now one might call the way Hamas threw Fatah and the Palestinian Authority (PA) out of the Gaza Strip and turned that territory into a radical Islamist state is a real Palestinian revolution. Or one might say that a real Palestinian revolution would take place when Fatah, the PA, and Palestinian public opinion really changed toward accepting a two-state solution.
We don't have to wait that long. The infamous "Red Team" article was as much an attack on Fayyadism as on Israel.
In supporting the creation of a unified Palestinian security service, CENTCOM's Red Team distances itself from the U.S. effort to provide training to the Fatah-controlled security forces in the West Bank, which began during George W. Bush's administration. While that effort, currently headed by Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, is not mentioned specifically in the report, the Red Team makes it clear that it believes that such initiatives will fail unless the Israelis and Palestinians negotiate an end to the conflict. While Dayton and the administration are focused on building a "National Security Force" in the West Bank that excludes Hamas, and jails its members, the focus of Palestinians is elsewhere. "But all Palestinians are watching the clashes in East Jerusalem, which continue to feed into the Palestinians perception the Israelis are incapable of negotiating in good faith," according to the report.
So if Friedman is as committed to Fayyadism as he claims to be shouldn't he be just as emphatic in attacking someone like Mark Perry - who wishes to strengthen Hamas at the expense of Fatah - as he is in attacking right wing Jews and settlers (who, at least, were correct about Arafat)?
Of course expecting intellectual honesty from Thomas Friedman is likely to be a vain enterprise.
Posted: 02 Jul 2010 01:27 AM PDT
Posted: 02 Jul 2010 01:25 AM PDT
Today Charles Krauthammer blasts the administration for its refusal to state the obvious in Terror -- and candor in describing the Islamist ideology behind it
Instead, President Obama's National Security Strategy insists on calling the enemy -- how else do you define those seeking your destruction? -- "a loose network of violent extremists." But this is utterly meaningless. This is not an anger-management therapy group gone rogue. These are people professing a powerful ideology rooted in a radical interpretation of Islam, in whose name they propagandize, proselytize, terrorize and kill.
It reminds me of Michael Kelly's column from Sept 12, 2001 originally titled When innocents are the enemy:
If it is morally acceptable to murder, in the name of a necessary blow for freedom, a woman on a Tel Aviv street, or to blow up a disco full of teenagers, or to bomb a family restaurant -- then it must be morally acceptable to drive two jetliners into a place where 50,000 people work. In moral logic, what is the difference? If the murder of innocent people is for whatever reason excusable, it is excusable; if it is legitimate, it is legitimate. If acceptable on a small scale, so too on a grand.
Whether it is this administration's failure to call a terrorist a terrorist or those who excuse Palestinian terrorism (we don't necessarily approve of the methods, but we understand their grievance), they're guided by a similar problem. They see the terrorists as being just like themselves.
Charles Krauthammer wrote in 1983:
Other messages from exotic cultures are never received at all. The more virulent pronouncements of Third World countries are dismissed as mere rhetoric. The more alien the sentiment, the less seriously it is taken. Diplomatic fiascoes follow, like Secretary Shultz's recent humiliation in Damascus. He persisted in going there despite the fact that President Assad had made it utterly plain that he rejected efforts by the U.S. (the "permanent enemy") to obtain withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon. Or consider the chronic American frustration with Saudi Arabia. The Saudis consistently declare their refusal to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state in the Middle East, a position so at variance with the Western view that it is simply discounted. Thus successive American Governments continue to count on Saudi support for U.S. peace plans, only to be rudely let down. When the Saudis finally make it unmistakably clear that they will support neither Camp David nor the Reagan plan nor the Lebanon accord, the U.S. reacts with consternation. It might have spared itself the surprise if it had not in the first place imagined that underneath those kaffiyehs are folks just like us, sharing our aims and views.
Or as Lee Smith explained it more recently:
We also learned that some Western reporters and analysts have such a deeply personal stake in their desire to understand "the other" that any suggestion that groups like Hezbollah might actually be motivated by a dangerous political ideology that has nothing in common with secular democratic norms is quite literally unbearable. One night at dinner, one of our hosts, an anti-Hezbollah Shia political activist, was criticizing the Party of God when a member of our delegation became anxious and annoyed. A researcher who has interviewed the leadership of other Islamist parties in the region, she snapped at our host and asked if he had "ever actually met someone from Hezbollah." "Why yes," replied the host, laughing. "I live in a Hezbollah neighborhood and have family members in Hezbollah, even Hezbollah martyrs." Ideally, the messenger's credentials would have at least persuaded her to listen to the message; instead, she got up and walked away from the table.
There are those who see our enemies as just like us, ready to compromise if we just are nice enough. They are motivated by the solipsism that Krauthammer describes. Unfortunately, there's a mistaken premise here:
There were some new features, including the cigarette lighter made in China and sold on the West Bank that shows the World Trade Center on fire when clicked. There is massive documentation on the involvement of Hamas and Hizballah in terrorism, antisemitism, anti-American views, and would-be genocide. One can see videos of kids in the Hamas schools carrying out military exercises. Watch this and then ask whether Hamas is intending to produce a generation of moderates.
Reaching out to meet someone halfway will only work if the other person is willing to go to meet you. If they're only seeking advantage from you, meeting them on their own terms is a recipe for disaster.
Crossposted on Yourish.
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